Defensive Responses to Strategic Sustainability Paradoxes: Have Your Coke and Drink It Too!

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This study examines how the leading beverage company handles the strategic paradox between its core business and the social issue of obesity. A discursive analysis reveals how the organization does embrace a social goal related to obesity but not the paradoxical tension between this goal and its core business. The analysis further shows how the tension, along with the responsibility for the social goal, is projected outside the organization. This response is underpinned by the paradoxical constructions of consumers and the concept of obesity in the organization’s communication. Based on these findings, I outline a new type of process for projection, one of the defensive mechanisms recognized in the literature. The findings increase our understanding of defensive responses to
organizational paradoxes and help distinguish between different kinds of strategic paradoxes. They also highlight the need to further open up the complexity and multiplicity of strategic paradoxes related to corporate sustainability.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309–327
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Organizational tensions , Paradox approach , Corporate sustainability, Discourse analysis, Defensive responses

ID: 13367428